Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Merry Christmas!

We had a wonderful holiday around here, which included the giving of many knitted items. Here is my brother wearing the hat I made him, previously modeled by Marty:

A camera error is preventing me from retreiving my dad's hat. But here's what I made for my mom:

Accompanying the above item was this note:

Dear Mom,

This unfortunate, incomplete, ill-fitting gift is really an example. It’s an example of:

1. How important it is to do a gauge swatch
2. What you might have received for Christmas, had daughter #1 followed example #1
3. A bolero jacket for a very small person
4. What a one-armed elf might wear
5. My intention to hand-knit something special for you
6. My overly-ambitious knitting schedule (ask Rob what he got this morning)
7. Proof of the saying, “It’s the thought that counts” (hopefully)
8. Your opportunity to choose an item, any item, to be hand-knit in YOUR SIZE (I promise to do a gauge swatch this time) (you can take as much time as you like to choose. I know how you like to browse extensively before you commit to anything)

I received some truly thoughtful and fantastic gifts. The most exciting part is that someone is knitting something for me!!! My mom is making me the Touch Me Scarf out of the wonderful Meunch chenille that is unlike any other. It is a true red and was given to me on the needles - so nice to know that I am not the only one to do that this year! I also got some great knitting books and a check written out to my LYS. Perfect! My sister-in-law gave me a photo printer and my husband got me all kinds of fun stuff - books, wine glasses, silpats, a remote weather station, and the Jeopardy! game. We had a great time with family and friends and look forward to a happy new year.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Hey some stuff is being knitted around here! I can tell because my needle case is filled to overflowing. On the way to Chicago last weekend, I finished this hat for my brother, Mike:

Then on the way home from Chicago, I finally finished the blue baby hat that matches the cardigan that goes with the pink cardi and hat set for the Kreiman twins, who were born around Thanksgiving. It makes me so happy to have this set finished and I hope they love it. Here's the whole set together:

Not done yet! Look what else got finished:

Gee, I'm not sure if that's big enough. Hold it up so I can see:

Ah yes, almost as big as the child it's for. Perfect!

Friday, December 17, 2004

How many days til...

Would you think Christmas is just around the corner, if that hat were the only thing I've cast off in a week? Well, it is, and it is.

Life has been so hectic lately and I feel I haven't had any time to knit.

Our good friend Justin visited us for the weekend. When my husband picked him up from the airport, Justin asked to be taken to a place to get his haircut and to buy a hat. Rob said, "Oh, let Tracy make you a hat!" I was thrilled to make Justin something, even if he did insist on black and nothing but black. And it made me feel so great that Rob thought of my knitting as a superior option to a store-bought hat (I am quite confidant that this was the case, rather than he was trying to save Justin a few bucks.)

The hat was knit with Rowan's kid class, a blend of 70% lambswool, 26% kid mohair, and 4% nylon. It has a nice fuzz to it. I invented my own pattern by making a gauge swatch and measuring Justin's head - a wopping 23.5"! I wanted the hat to be a bit smaller than his head, so 22.5" is what I was going for. My gauge gave me 3.5 stitches=1" on a size US10 needle holding both strands together. Here's the pattern that I made up:

Using a US10 (16") circular needle and holding both strands together, cast on 76 stitches. Work k2, p2 rib for 4.5 inches. Knit 1 row, increasing 1 stitch every 19, for a total of 80 stitches (I did this to avoid using a smaller size needle, as I did not have a size 9 handy. If you do, you could cast all 80 onto a sz 9 and skip the increasing).

Work stockinette stitch (knit every round) until piece measures 9" (less if you want a hat that fits closer to the head, like a skull cap. I prefer mine a bit taller so it can be really pulled down on cold days, or worn a bit higher up, as the wearer prefers.)

Begin decreasing:
Round 1: (k5, k2tog), repeat to end of round, k 3 remaining stitches.
Round 2: knit round
Round 3: (k4, k2tog), repeat to end of round, k 3 remaining stitches.
Round 4: knit round
Round 5: (k3, k2tog), repeat to end of round, k 3 remaining stitches.
Round 6: knit round
Round 7: (k2, k2tog), repeat to end of round, k 3 remaining stitches.
Round 8: knit round
Round 9: (k1, k2tog), repeat to end of round.
Round 10: knit round
Round 11: (k2tog), repeat to end of round.

Cut yarn, leaving and 8" tail. Weave tail through remaining live stitches and then weave tail end into wrong side of hat. Presto!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Marty Pants

Really, my blog title should be Marty Pants. This was our nickname for Marty, because he was so smart and we didn't want to refer to him as a smarty pants. Making pants, or longies, was my original motivation to learn to knit: 100% wool can be waterproofed with a bit of lanolin and water and creates the perfect cover for a cloth diaper - all natural, breathable, all seasons, environmentally friendly, perfect. Some people knit a lot of socks, some a lot of scarves. I knit a lot of pants. Here's the pair just finished for Mary:

Sporty and cute, just like Mary. Hopefully we will get a pic of her wearing them soon. Why didn't I take one today, when she tried them on and I had my camera? Same reason I haven't taken the picture for our Christmas cards, either, I suppose. A little know secret concerning havin gchildren: your brain functions at 50% capacity from the moment you get pregnant until your child is older - no idea how old, but past 2 for sure. I will keep you posted if it ever comes back to full functionality.

Now my needles are free to start some Christmas knitting!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope all you Americans enjoyed the 4-day weekend. I loved it so much, I knit my niece this:

She came here all the way from Colorado, played wonderfully with my son, and loves wristbands. She'll be getting a few more of them for Christmas.

We had a wonderful holiday here with family. Not much knitting was accomplished, but it was still a great time.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Assisted Knitting

My good friend and neighbor, Janine (mom to Leo and Mary), recently learned to knit. She chose a somewhat ambitious project for a shower gift, with which I was happy to help her. Saturday night, with a few logs on the fire, children tucked in their beds, and a deadline looming, we finished this:

Admittedly, it was difficult to take the hat off the model to give it to the parents-to-be, but Janine says she did so graciously. All the moms wanted to know where they could buy such a thing. Janine proudly told the shocked audience that she had made it, and then was hounded by requests to sell her work. Not bad for a second finished object! It was fun to help with the seams, as they were so critical for this hat and I have become rather adept at mattress stitch. Great job Janine!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Should I be concerned?

Hmm, not much being cast off lately, but more and more yarn is entering the house. I am running out of places to stash it. When Purple Heart came last week, I contemplated giving away all our beach towels so that I could use the space they were taking up for my yarn stash.

Have you ever seen the cover of "Knitter's Stash"? I love that look of piles of yarn, just waiting for you to be inspired. I have plenty of inspiration, just so little time lately. The few things that I am working on are gifts for my main blog readers, so how do you blog about that? I guess those FO's will have to wait to be shared. In the meantime, I do have some exciting yarn to share:

Blue-face leicester yarn (Poor Man's Cashmere), hand-dyed by Cass at Holy Sheep! Yarns. There are 2 very large skeins. The solid was supposed to be one of the colors from the 'earthy' colorway, but I think it's a bit darker. I still love it, though, and I have another skein that I could send her to be dyed in the lighter, more caramel-y tones of the earthy.

I also ordered 2 kits from Peace Fleece:

The 'Everyday Cardigan' for me (someday) and,

The infant cardigan for some future lucky child. I love the yarns from Peace Fleece and their philosophy as well.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

You're welcome!

Just a short blog today as the native is restless. I am reminded once again of why I knit for Janine:

Not only has she thanked my profusely and repeatedly for these pants, she has actually taken pictures of her child wearing them and e-mailed them to me.

Don't get me wrong: I love to knit and to knit for others, and I am not in it for the praise. Marty hasn't said a word to me about the several items I have knit for him (in fact, he sometimes cries about wearing them), yet I keep casting on projects for him; I don't knit for the gratitude of others. Yet to be thanked, to have someone really appreciate the knit item... well it's like reliving the joy of that project all over again. And it makes me start looking for more things to knit for that person/family!

So a word to the wise: If you really want to make a knitter's day, go on and on about how much you love what they knit. There's no going over board here. No amount of praise is too much. Seriously.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happy Halloween!

The pants aren't blocked yet but I had to try them on. Here is my little lion sporting some new longies:

I can't get over how cute he looks in that lion hat. There is a whole costume that goes with it. He really gets that he is a lion and roars all day. He chases the cat roaring. Today I found him tickling his face with his own tail.

In other knitting, I've been working slowly on a pair of pants for my friend's daughter, Mary (Leo, of the longies, is her brother). They are a great pink Manos wool that I got from Gaspereau Valley Fibres when they were having a sale... I have a kilo of this pink so there is no chance of me running out. There is a great chance that Mary and I will be wearing the same colors this winter. Anyway, this pink is great and I love the very slight variation, but I felt that, as pants, there was just too much pink happening. Something needed to be done. Here's what it looked like:

And here's where we are now:

Better, yes? I am so darn happy with those stripes. Plus they made the whole thing move along quickly. I needed 10.5" of pink, and it felt like it was going nowhere. Add a few stripes and boom! Before you know it, you are kitchener grafting a crotch!

I think the pants will be a bit more sporty looking with the stripes, too. Mary is a busy, wonderful toddler and I think these will be perfect for her. And her mom, Janine, is one of those people who make knitting gifts a wonderful, satisfying experience. Ever since Leo got his longies, Janine has thanked me countless times. She tells me about all the times he's worn them and all the places he's worn them too. She tells me how great they are, how well they fit, how well they work as diaper covers (since the wool has been lanolized, they become waterproof). In short, she makes me feel so great for having knit her kiddo something. She will be on the receiving end of much knitting, unlike others who fail to mention if the item even fit or if their child ever wore it. For all the time it takes to knit something, I can't give people more than one shot at being decent about it. I considered knitting my brother a sweater for Christmas; he's very tall and fit and would look great in just about anything, especially this lovely ribbed sweater. But I know he won't get it. I know he will take it off at night and throw it on the floor. I know he will not realize the hours of knitting and appreciate the love that goes into the work. So, I will knit him a hat in a nice wool and it will keep him warm at work and he will appreciate that just as much as a sweater. Janine, on the other hand, will not be throwing my knit goods on the floor of her kids' bedrooms, and she will realize that every stitch was knit with love.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Pants are done and new yarn lives here now

Finally I got to cast something off last night! I have been spread a bit too thin lately, with all the projects going on. Working on several things a night has made a bit of progress on everything, without getting anything completed. So I resisted casting on anything new and just worked on these pants:

Not starting anything new was especially hard to do after my recent trip to ThreadBear Fiber Arts Studio in Lansing, MI. I felt a bit dizzy walking around in there, surrounded by so much yarn. There were people knitting everywhere you looked, and treats, coffee, dogs... it was amazing. My husband will be surprised to find me asking to go visit his mom, since she lives near the store. It was difficult to narrow down my selections, but I manage to only take home this:

Mountain Colors alpaca blend (50% alpaca, 50% wool) in Bitterroot Rainbow, with which I plan to make another pair of pants for Marty, and this:
Lorna's Laces shepherd worsted, a bulky worsted weight in colors that make me so happy. The reds are difficult to photograph so trust me when I say this is bright and cheery in red, purple, and orange. It's a superwash wool that will someday be a sweater. You can see I already cast on a swatch. I love how it knits up on my size 9 Lantern Moon needles. I am trying to design my own sweater pattern to make a cardigan for a friend's 3-year-old son.

Should I be concerned at all that more yarn is coming in than is being knitted and going out? I was showing someone my swift the other day and actually forgot an entire basket of hanks that could have been used to demo the swift. That's a bit disconcerting. I do have things in mind for all this yarn; I just need more time to knit!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Pants Progress

The bulky marine-blue wool pants for Marty are coming along nicely. I cast off the first leg last night. I love how quickly these knit up on sz 10 needles. I did a garter stitch cuff on these instead of the seed stitch I had planned; the chunkiness of this 6-ply merino just didn't lend itself to a nice seed. I love how the garter stitch turned out.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Critical Error

Here's a hint: When you have so much yarn that you can't really justify (i.e. you are not a fiber vendor) and you don't want to bring attention to those huge piles (which for some reason have avoided comment thus far - and it's not even the entire stash, there are still TWO KILOS upstairs keeping the swift and winder company), DON'T ask your husband to dig through a basket for a blue ball of yarn, no matter how tired you are or how much cooking and cleaning you did that day. Here's what it sounds like:

Me: Honey, can you grab a ball of this blue chunky wool yarn for me out of that basket?
Rob: (dig, dig) This one?
Me: No that's cotton, try the other basket.
Rob: This basket?
Me: Err no that's the yarn I dyed, remember? Try the top basket. It looks like this (hold up pants-in-progress).
Rob: Ok let me see, oh that's a purplish blue, oh there's yarn on this top shelf too? Is it in this... Jesus, Trace.
Me: (shrinking down into the couch, hoping if I look smaller, the yarn will scrunch down with me)

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Winding heaven

Remember that huge haul of manos? Was anyone wondering, wow that's a lot of winding. Well, I was. The 2 huge kilos represented 20 skeins of winding. I can wind a hank of yarn in about 25 minutes. Let's not do the math here; those kilos were going to take a big chunk out of my knitting time. So I used a Joann's coupon to order a swift, and picked up a winder at my LYS. I put them together and ooh la la, winding happiness was mine. I love the quiet whirring; I love that it takes no batteries; I love feeling like a pilgrim woman, using this simple mechanical device that needs no improvements. I was able to wind a 100 gram skein during the commercial break between The Apprentice and E.R. Fabulous! Here's the setup:

I was able to tear myself away from winding long enough to finish the pumpkin hat, which as it turns out is too small for baby Evan's extremely large head. Even after some stretching and blocking, it is too tight. So Marty will enjoy it for the time being. Here's the side view:

I've cast on a new hat for Evan, but after about 4" last night, I realized that it fits me. Luckily that boy has a grandma knitting for him! He may just have to settle for a sweater from me!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Knitting progress occurs while blog progress halts

I love having multiple projects going. When I get to the point in one where a) I need new needles or b) the concentration requirement is too high for the current situation, I can switch to the other project. So you may not notice that things have progressed, but if 5 thiings all got a couple inches longer, then that's something, isn't it?

I recently cast on 2 new projects that are very fun. Using kool-aid-dyed orange wool and Manos green, the pumpkin hat:

Breaking into my manos haul, Marty's Christmas stocking:

I received my Lamb's Pride wool/mohair blend from the Brown Sheep Company and immediately worked this swatch:

And I finally finished seaming the pink cardigan (yes it still needs buttons):

I also cast on, knit 6 inches, and then frogged a pair of pants for Marty. I realized they were not going to fit and I love the wool so much that I desperately want these to be perfect for him. So, I get to knit them all over again. I love the wool so much that I don't even mind.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

My stash is looking at me funny

Yes, I ordered the yarn. Yes, I knew it was coming. And yes, I do have plans for the yarn. But still I am struck by the enormity of the stash every time I come upon it. Keep in mind, I am a pretty new knitter with a full-time toddler on her hands. I mean, I can only exchange so much sleep for knitting.

It occurred to me today that I have two very sweet nieces in Colorado who might love a poncho for Christmas. But not out of my stash yarn... no, I would need some new yarn for that. Tonight is knitting class with Mom (yay!) and that means more shopping. Hopefully I will find the bag of Rowan's all-season cotton that I lost track of; if I didn't leave it at the LYS, then where could it be? There are also so me new Addi turbo 16" circs in there that I need for several projects. This cold weather has me itching to cast on some hats.

Last night, I whipped out a hat to match Leo's longies:

I also finished the drawstring for Mary's soaker, which I may give to Kylee now, since they seem so big. If I do that, then Mary will get longies like her brother's, but in pink!

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Holy yarn haul!

The postal carrier brought me some amazing goodies the other day! I found a great deal online for some retired colors of Manos del Uruguay; with the conversion from Canadian to US currency, the prices were so great that I ordered a ton. Here's the stash:

In case you are wondering, those two extremely large bundles are kilograms. Kilograms I tell you! The remaining skeins, which seem so tiny now, are your typically 100 gram skeins. Here's another shot that shows the size difference:

If I thought a 9-ball blanket (of 50 grams each, at that!) was daunting, boy am I in for a load of knitting now. Now for the next package: 2 3-skein bundles from This yarn is also from Uruguay, incidentally. I ordered the bulky merino (6-ply) in two colors: marine blue,

and apple green. It is so soft and wonderful!

Then one last delivery: a huge skein of blue liecester, or "poor man's cashmere," from a co-op that I was lucky enough to get in on. It is super-soft and lovely; I am not sure what color to dye it. I doesn't photograph well, but here it is:

I failed to hide these goodies before Rob got home, and all he could say was, "You better get knitting." Better get knitting, indeed.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Works in Progress

What's on the needles, you say? Well that just happens to be my favorite question, since I only want to talk about knitting. Well babies and knitting. So, here are all my busy needles with their yarn goodies:

First knitting project, lovely baby blanket from Erika Knight's "Simple Knits for Cherished Babies." Little did I know that the pattern calls for 6 balls when really you need 9. This project was daunting enough at 6, but now I must find 3 more balls of dye-lotted Rowan's All Season Cotton, or make the blanket smaller. The funny thing is, I was going to make one blue and one pink of these buggers, back when I thought it used 6 balls only, until I realized how long it would take. As a first project, this was great since it's just knitting a purling. Unless you want to finish something.

Longies for Baby Leo
Look at these cute pants. The pattern is LTK and I love working it; Marty has a pair made from this as well. The yarn is from Holy Sheep Yarns, and was ordered before I understood the concept that other things, besides blankets, take more than one ball of yarn. I really thought I could make just about anything with just one. So I have to get creative with Leo's pants, but I like the way this leg has turned out. Now if I could finish them before he outgrows them!

Soaker for Mary
Again with the one ball of yarn thing. I would have loved to make pants out of this yarn, but Janine (Leo and Mary's mom) might start to wonder if I was only knitting for Leo. Hopefully this soaker will be done before Mary potty trains (not being sarcastic, she is 29 months old!).

Cardigan Sweater for baby-to-be
This is on a yarn needles, but still counts! The pattern is another from Erika Knight's "Simple Knits for Cherished Babies," and the yarn is a nice cotton from Rowan. It's all knit and just has to be finished. The seaming is taking as long as the knitting, which is demoralizing. It will take a lot of will power to finish these! When I do, I will start making another is blue, as the parents of these sweaters are expecting twins in November. Time permitting, there will be matching hats for both babies as well!

This project is from my knitting class, taken at my lovely LYS. It's the beginner project, but I can't complete it: I've lost my other needle. Pity.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Learning to knit, learning to blog

Once you've stayed home keeping a busy toddler alive and happy, you realize that you can do anything. And so, I took up knitting.

Once you take up knitting, you realize how absolutely talented some people are out there - the people who spin and dye and make beautiful things, sometimes without even a pattern.

Once you start blogging, you realize how little you have to say and how much better other peoples' blogs sound. I probably have more to say than this, but I have to pull it out of my head. But, I must give kudos to the Yarn Harlot, who makes me laugh and stay up too late. I also attribute my fascination with Latvian mittens to her.

I will spend some time figuring out how to get some pictures on here and show you what I'm working on. And that brings us to the end of blog entry #1. I can't just talk to myself all day, now can I? Well I can, but then this one entry would be endless and I have a toddler who will be awake soon, asking for food and the like. Thanks for reading!